Can hate be something we love?
You might remember this brilliant campaign by Honda when they introduced the new Diesel Engine that supposedly had fewer emissions and wouldn’t hurt our planet as much as other engines. It’s an ad from 2009, and although this is not part of the ten-year challenge, I would love to see a selfie from Honda comparing what their brand looked like to where they are today. The film that I’m talking about introduced this idea with a voice-over that turned into a cute little song that would ask; “Can hate be good? Can hate be great? Can hate be something we don’t hate?”. Then a little whistle here and there… and the song would finish with a golden lion concept that makes everyone I know say they wish they had come up with that line: “Hate something, change something.”
So here’s something I hate, dear Honda; your sales team here in Chicago. In fact, I hate your sale strategy that makes these ambitious honest people all behave like a scammer.
So I bring the car for an oil change and all of a sudden I get a phone call from your sales team saying you have someone interested in buying my car. What are the odds? You say perhaps I should come in just to see how much my car would sell for, even though I said I wasn’t looking into selling anything, but I go… and 2 hours later and a lot of bad acting, it’s obvious there’s no one really interested in my car and you just wanted to see if I would trade in for a brand-new CR-V. Hey, nothing against you selling your products.
But I hate it so much I started to see that hate can actually be good, can be great, can be something we don’t hate. And you’re right, now I have to change something. The easiest thing to change would be my car, just get a different brand, right? But that’s not what I hate, or at least not up until now. If I just change from a Honda to a Land Rover, would I really be changing what I hate? In fact, while in your store, we see a Range Rover Evoque parked outside and I ask “what about that car, is that one for sale?” and your sales manager says “I wish…”. As Seth Godin well put it, the marketers who are disliked by humans, are disliked because they have non-remarkable products that cause them to act like selfish jerks. So if you begin by asserting that you have products that are remarkable to a unique group of people, you’re on the right track.
What I really want to change is your mind, Honda. Your old ways of seeing marketing as a tool for tricking consumers into getting something they don’t need. I hate that you think your loyal consumers are an easy target, instead of serving them and actually solving a real issue they might have. But that’s what happens when you don’t speak your customer’s language. That’s why changing my car won’t change your sales strategy. I’d love to invite your sales team to learn how to speak copywriting as a second language. I think you will appreciate lesson 3 of module 3: The body language of your brand. But don’t worry, Honda, I won’t push you to buy my online course, and I won’t accept your car as payment if you decide you should really learn these secrets. Because I know how much you think your cars are worth. Now sing with me: Can Honda be good? Can Honda be great? Can Honda be something we don’t hate?